Monday, August 3, 2009

Japan Journal - Hakone Area

On May 21, we boarded our bus to go to Gora in the Hakone area which is south-west of Tokyo. On the way we stopped to stretch our legs and I found a flock of swallows who had build their mud nests under the eaves of the refreshment store. I was able to get a picture of a male swallow taking a break from feeding the brood.

Below is a picture of one of the chicks peeking over the edge of the nest. When they are this young they have big wide white beaks which make a good target when the parents are thrusting food at them. Hmmmm, a face only a mother could love.

Our next stop was for lunch... at a French restaurant. It was small but very charming. The food was excellent and almost French. The tables were even set with wine glasses and knives and forks and not a chop stick in sight.

After lunch we went to the Mt. Fuji House, a place where, if one is very lucky and the mountain is not covered in clouds, one may get a lovely view of Mt. Fuji. We were lucky. The picture I have shown here was not taken at the Mt. Fuji House but along the road to it from the restaurant. We made several more stops for viewing and then drove up to the 7000 foot level on the mountain. That's where the road ends and the walk begins. Since Mt. Fuji is a little over 12,000 feet high it is an over-night hike. I did not make the climb.

We arrived in Gora in the late afternoon and checked into our reyokon (a Japanese style inn) which had tatami covered floors in the rooms. One does not wear even slippers on a tatami floor, just socks. The inn was on the side of a mountain so the entrance was actually on the third floor, the guest rooms were on the next 3 floors and the hot springs fed public baths were on the first floor. They were called public baths but they were only open to guests of the reyokon. We no sooner got into our rooms when a lady dressed in a kimono came around with green tea and cakes for us.

The rooms also had yukatas and slippers in which we dressed for the first night's dinner. It was a real feast with sashimi, tempura, corn soup, various pickles and appetizers, beef and mushrooms cooked on little individual grills, rice, ramon noodles and desert, all washed down with cold saki. I probably left something out. Back in our room we found that the table had been moved and our futons had been prepared for us. I We slept very well.

On the next day, the 22nd, we took a funicular (train) and a cable car (rope car) to the top of Mt. Soun-zan which is known for its hot springs and fumaroles. They boil eggs for the tourist in the springs. The sulpher turns them black. It is said that every time a person eats one it adds 10 years to their life.

We took a bus from the mountain down to Lake Ashino-ko where we sailed on a faux pirate ship down the length of the lake to a hotel where we had lunch. We got back on our bus (which had driven to meet us) and went along a road so twisty that there were mirrors on the curves so drivers could see what was a head of them. We stopped at Hamamatsu-Ya were we met a wood worker who was a descendent of the originator of the wood mosaics that are so famous in this area. He gave a demonstration of how they are made.

Before dinner I soaked in the hot spring bath. Now that felt good.

Next morning we were up and about early toe take the bus down to the Odawara train station to take the bullet train to Nogoya. There we switched to an express train to Kanazawa.

The Japanese seem to like little dogs. This lady had more than most but two of them are dachshunds. I saw more long haired dachshunds in Japan than I ever saw anywhere else.

Go to my flickr page to see other photographs that I took in this area of Japan.


I'm Julia said...

I can just see you, taking it all in, soaking it up like a sponge. I wonder... has the trip & all you saw affected your creative activities? Are you doing or seeing things differently?

AltheaP said...

You're such a good traveler, Martha.

On a flight from Korea to the West Coast, I looked down and saw a sea of cloud with Mt. Fuji rising above it. Still makes the little hairs on my neck stand up to think about it.

Kathleen said...

Lovely tour of Japan! Great photos - makes me feel like I was there.

Gallery Juana - ギャラリー ワナ said...

I found your link in the "Let's talk Art" thread at etsy.

I am living in Japan, so it was fun to see you've been here for vacation.

I haven't made it South yet to Mt. Fuji or Kyoto! Your trip to Mt. Fuji, the ryokans and hot springs sound wonderful.

And, yes, dachshunds are very popular here.

GalleryJuana Blog

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Henry Davis Thoreau